TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Globalization of Class Actions

The upcoming March 2009 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science is dedicated to a symposium covering class actions in about two dozen countries.  The articles were submitted by leading scholars in each country.  The Academy's website is here.

Thanks to Mark Behrens for the tip.


February 21, 2009 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Personal Injury Roundup No. 25 (2/20/09)

I am considering suing the snow if it returns.  Is spring coming?  Is snow judgment-proof?

Anyway: This week in torts...

Reform, Legislation, Policy

  • Eric Turkewitz, as usual, is the go-to source for information about sketchy client solicitation after the Buffalo plane crash [NY Personal Injury Attorney Blog]
  • Restatement (Third) of Torts symposium takes on, well, everything [TortsProf]
  • Video of David Michaels's lecture at WNEC Law [WNEC Law]
  • Walter Olson on CPSIA [Overlawyered]

New Lawsuits

  • Suit filed to force detergent manufacturers to disclose ingredients [LA Times]
  • Lawsuit alleges lead levels covered up in DC water system, challenging study done by GWU professor (whose contract required approval by water system) [GW Hatchet, MSNBC]

Trials, Settlements & Other Ends

  • $2.3 million for person who fell, intoxicated, in front of a subway [Overlawyered, Tort Deform]
  • $8 million in post-Engle case [TortsProf]
  • Vicki Iseman drops suit against NYT; NYT says it didn't imply an affair or unethical behavior [Politico]


  • Truth a defense to defamation claim?  Apparently not always.  [Citizen Media Law Project]
  • Possibility of recusal for Justice Roberts in Levine? [Writ]
  • NJ Supreme Court hear sex abuse case implicating discovery rule []


  • What drives damage caps? [SSRN]



February 20, 2009 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Negligent Spotting?

The family of a boy whose finger was crushed in a weightlifting accident at a high school in Virginia has sued the gym teacher.  The Roanoke Times has the story, via VLW Blog.


February 19, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What Drives the Passage of Damage Caps?

This is the question addressed by Jonathan Klick (Penn) and Cathy Sharkey (NYU Law) in their SSRN posting of the same name.  Here is the abstract:

A number of states have passed caps on non-economic and punitive damage awards in civil cases. The conventional wisdom is that the passage of these caps is driven by "out-of-control" jury awards that need to be reigned in. However, it could be the case that voters harboring anti-litigation, pro-tort reform sentiments are more likely to support the passage of caps even in the absence of an upsurge in awards. To examine the effect of jury awards on the passage of caps, we estimate semi-parametric hazard models of cap passage using data from the Jury Verdict Research Reporter.


February 19, 2009 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$8M in Hess v. Philip Morris

USA Today has the story; Philip Morris will appeal (press release), focusing on the use of the findings from the Engle class before it was decertified.


February 18, 2009 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit Upholds NYC's Fast Food Menu Rule

In a ruling yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the New York City rule requiring chain restaurants to list calorie information on menus.  The New York State Restaurant Association had challenged the regulation on two grounds:  (1) the rule was expressly preempted by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and (2) the rule violated the Association's First Amendment rights under a compelled speech theory.  The Second Circuit rejected both arguments.

More coverage at Consumer Law & Policy Blog and Am Law Daily.   A copy of the opinion is available at How Appealing.


February 18, 2009 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hess Lawyers Seek $130M+ in Tobacco Case

The AP has details; $100M of the amount sought is punitive damages.  The jury found causation in an earlier phase of the trial, and the since-decertified class action established in Florida that the tobacco companies hid risks of smoking.


February 18, 2009 in Damages, MDLs and Class Actions, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Federal Money for "Comparative Effectiveness" Studies

The New York Times reports that the stimulus bill includes $1.1 billion to fund "comparative effectiveness" research, i.e., comparing the effectiveness of different treatments for the same condition or illness. 

Dr. Elliott S. Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School said the federal effort would help researchers try to answer questions like these: Is it better to treat severe neck pain with surgery or a combination of physical therapy, exercise and medications? What is the best combination of “talk therapy” and prescription drugs to treat mild depression?  How do drugs and “watchful waiting” compare with surgery as a treatment for leg pain that results from blockage of the arteries in the lower legs? Is it better to treat chronic heart failure by medications alone or by drugs and home monitoring of a patient’s blood pressure and weight?

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department will oversee the funds with a "council of up to 15 federal employees to coordinate the research."  According to the Times, "[s]ome money will be used for systematic reviews of published scientific studies, and some will be used for clinical trials making head-to-head comparisons of different treatments."   President Obama is expected to sign the bill today.


February 17, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Food & Drug Law Annual Conference

Titled "Opportunities and Challenges Facing FDA & the New Administration," the Food & Drug Law Institutes's Annual Conference will focus on changes under President Obama's new administration.   The conference is scheduled for April 22-23rd, 2009.   An agenda and speaker list is not yet available.


February 17, 2009 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Delaying DTC Advertising

The defense-side Drug & Device Law Blog has some thoughts; even if you disagree with the conclusions, they seem to identify the issues in play accurately.


February 16, 2009 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Culhane on Marriage, Tort, and Private Ordering

John Culhane (Widener) has posted Marriage, Tort, and Private Ordering:  Rhetoric and Reality in LGBT Rights on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article takes a critical, historical view of the LGBT rights movement in three related areas: marriage equality; injury to same-sex relationships in tort law; and the creation and enforcement of private contractual agreements between same-sex partners. The period surveyed covers the early 1970's through late 2008.

Through examination of case law, legislation and legislative history, and the increasing visibility of the LGBT community during the period in question, Marriage, Tort and Private Ordering: Rhetoric and Reality in LGBT Rights argues that, during the 1970's, the socially enforced invisibility of gay lives and relationships translated into an inability to regard "gay marriage" as anything but an oxymoron. Moreover, inasmuch as marriage was also seen as required for relationship validity, tort claims also met with failure when the intimate lives of gay and lesbian couples came into view. Over time, though, both visibility and the vocabulary needed to describe it have moved same-sex couples ever closer to formal, legal equality. Private arrangements by same-sex couples, by contrast, have long enjoyed greater recognition, in part because courts were been able to focus on economic understandings and the law of contract.


February 15, 2009 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)